And The Winner Is ... Airbus or Boeing?

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Airbus may sell more airliners than Boeing in the next year but that doesn't necessarily have Boeing execs jumping off ledges. What they might lose in civilian business should be more than made up in defense contracts born of the war on terrorism and the future effects of that war on its European archrival. In 2002, Boeing delivered about 80 more airliners than Airbus (down from a 200-plane gap in 2001) and the companies are predicting that Airbus will build 300 planes to Boeing's 275 to 285, according to a Reuters report last week. Indeed, Airbus is turning up the pressure on Boeing's home turf by opening an office in Wichita and launching lavish advertising campaigns on this side of the pond. But while airline execs might be swayed by a smooth line, the Defense Department isn't likely to get much of its hardware built in Europe anytime soon, not while production lines and the voters that man them are ready and waiting in Seattle and elsewhere. Boeing expects to cash in on the Pentagon's $14-billion budget increase which is thanks, in large part, to the war on terrorism. And if there's a war with Iraq, the European and Asian travel markets, where Airbus is strongest, will likely get hit harder than North America, says the Reuters report.